Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Look out the side window, not the front one..."

" as not to see too well what's up ahead. Otherwise, you get constant adrenalin rushes from
the close calls and that's exhausting," my mom wisely advised in an email before I took the bumpy six-hour bus ride to Dhaka today. I thought it was scary being in a tiny taxi on a Bangladeshi road, but something about the tipsy tendency of buses in addition to their slow response time has put them closer to the top of my "scary vehicle" list. It was, however, not a bad ride and the seats beat Greyhound's hands down. Not that that's difficult to do.

As we left Sylhet the rice paddies began to thin and were soon interspersed with a variety of other crops including lots of hemp, eggplant, and squash. Though the Hindi movie playing in the front was at full volume, I got some sleep and when I woke up we were in the biggest crowd I'd ever seen. I didn't understand how the bus was still moving. Over the heads of people, goats and cows, I could see a little of the city, whose outskirts we entered hours before we arrived at the bus station. We passed a railroad track lined by hundreds of tiny tin-roofed houses and lines and lines of garment factories. There were fruit stalls and shoemakers, beggars and restaurants everywhere, and the sun was out.

I am excited for this new part of my adventure, though it was sad to leave my new friends from Projahnmo. They threw me a really nice tea party this morning before I left, and all the women put their palms on my cheeks and smiled into my eyes.

I thought while I had some quick internet connection I would share with
you some of the pictures from my last week in Sylhet.

This is Tamanna and me outside her uncle's house in Sylhet.
Tamanna is a Training Officer for Projahnmo, and just completed her Masters Degree.
She took me on a great rickshaw ride to meet a bunch of her family.
Like many families in Sylhet, three of the four sons of her grandparents
are overseas, sending money back.

This man is washing betel leaves. Many people here chew betel leaf and nut like
some people in the States chew tobacco. Most men here smoke cigarettes,
and most women chew betel nut or leaf. It turns your teeth orange.

This is the squash bed outside of my friend Tamanna's auntie's house.
The vines are strung up onto the bamboo structure and the fruit hangs down,
instead of resting on the ground.

These are the things that CHWs use and carry in their bags.
(including safe delivery kit, baby doll with placenta, CHX solution, and a scale)
Though they are only carrying the most necessary items,
the bag is quite heavy, and they have to carry it many miles a day.
(The clock is just mingling...most CHWs use their cell phones as watches)

There are piles and piles of trash everywhere.
Some gets sorted out by hand, like these plastic bottles...I don't know why.

This was my first plate of Jackfruit.
Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh, very nice smelling,
really huge on the tree, and very slimy inside.
Most Bangladeshis that I've asked have said they don't really like it very much.

The black embroidered cloth is actually a bed spread, hand embroidered in a traditional way.

The cloth and patterns here are mostly festive, bright, and very light.
Because in this culture women must be so covered,
the material has to be thin or else all those clothes would be dangerous in the heat.

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